• Offered by Biology Teaching and Learning Centre
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Biology
  • Areas of interest Physiology, Plant Science, Biology
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Daniel Noble
    • Prof Danielle Way
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2025
    See Future Offerings
  • STEM Course

Mangroves protect our coasts and promote biodiversity, but how do they thrive in the hostile, salty water that is lethal to most plants? How does a goose fly over the Himalayas in the intense cold and low oxygen that would kill a human in minutes? Answers to these questions rely on a strong understanding of how plants and animals operate at all levels, from cells to organs. For an organism to function in the natural environment physiological processes must work together. If we understand these processes we can better predict how plants and animals will respond to environmental stress. For example, we can then work out how extreme temperatures and drought brought about by climate change will affect local rates of extinction. We can explore the tricks that allow some species to survive in seemingly inhospitable environments across our planet. This knowledge can offer novel engineering insights into the design of our own buildings, transport systems and even cities (biomimetics is a growing and exciting field).


Plant and animal systems are rich in their diversity and have evolved striking parallels in how hormones and other biomolecules interact in day-to-day life. These interactions govern all metabolic processes that affect growth and performance. In this course we will help you to see both the shared and unique features of plant and animal physiology that underpin the evolution of biodiversity.


Physiology is not just fascinating; it’s crucial to our survival and well-being. Students will learn concepts that can be applied to an array of real-world problems including: 1) predicting how species distributions will change in response to climate change; 2) improving conservation outcomes for endangered plants and animals; 3) how anthropogenic stressors, such as overfishing, pollution and the introduction of invasive species impact physiology and can increase the risk of population extinction; 4) designing crops to ensure future food security.

Note: Graduate students attend joint classes with undergraduates but are assessed separately.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Compare and contrast the physiological processes that occur in plants and animals, governing day to day function;
  2. Predict and interpret the physiological responses of plants and animals to environmental stresses including temperature extremes and starvation;
  3. Use observation and laboratory experimentation to generate and test physiological hypotheses;
  4. Conduct physiological research and effectively communicate the findings;
  5. Apply experimental design skills to understanding population responses and interpreting quantitative data;
  6. Work within a research team and provide effective peer support and feedback.

Other Information

To request permission to enrol in this course please go to the the permission to enrol portal

Indicative Assessment

  1. 1 short essay (20) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  2. 4 lab reports (32) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6]
  3. Mid-semester assessment (24) [LO 1,2]
  4. Final exam (24) [LO 1,2]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


The expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours throughout the semester including:

  • 3 x 1 hour in person lectures per week (total 36 hours).
  • Face to face 6 x 3 hours (total 18 hours) of practical or workshop sessions throughout the semester.
  • Approximately 76 hours of self directed study which will include preparation for lectures, presentations and other assessment tasks.

Students are expected to actively participate and contribute towards discussions.

Inherent Requirements

No specific inherent requirements have been identified for this course.

Requisite and Incompatibility

Incompatible with BIOL2115

Prescribed Texts

Campbell, Reece and Meyers Biology 11th Edition Australian Version, or earlier version. 

Assumed Knowledge

Some background in statistics is highly recommended, but not critical. CHEM1101 or PHYS1101 or PHYS1004 , or their equivalent are recommended.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
7661 21 Jul 2025 28 Jul 2025 31 Aug 2025 24 Oct 2025 In Person N/A

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions